Pause and Reflect (steelheading-past to present)

Steelheading Northern California
1971 Circa Yuba R.-Fenwick,
St. George & Valley Steel.

Pat and I recently scored some time off and enjoyed a long overdue camping trip with our daughter Kellie, her husband Chad and wonderful grandson Mason. Nothing quite like getting away from it all with those closest to you. Evening campfires were fueled with story telling, singing and belly-aching laughter while daytime activities were simply non stop—fishing, swimming, and picnicking. Recently I also experienced a birthday. I’ve all but quite counting the years and don’t really pay much attention to the annual calendar date reminding you we’re not getting any younger. In between camping activities I surprisingly managed to find some chill time that permitted me to think about up coming steelhead prospects and strangely enough ponder the years I’ve devoted to this magnificent fish. For what it is worth, in just a few hours I dug deep to reveal the following:

Dean River
The fresh Salt-Worlds
of a Steelhead…

I’ve been an addicted and chronic steelheader since 1969…First steelhead caught, garden hackle (nightcrawler), a Trinity River 6 lb. hen. (Douglas City). First steelhead fly fishing outfit—Wright-McGill 9’ #6 fly rod—14941/2 Pflueger Medalist reel. First fly caught steelhead was a Trinity River 5 lb. hen on a #6 Silver Hilton. (Browns Alley). Largest steelhead to date—a 22 lb. Lower Dean River concrete hen. (Ross Island-four runs up the estuary). First dry fly caught steelhead, 1973, was a Kalama River 9 lb. hen that rose twice to a steelhead caddis.(Holey Water-Gas House run)., Favorite steelhead caught— a 2 lb. half pounder my son Chris B. caught, his very first, at age 11/2 yrs..(Lower Trinity River-Tish Tang). Favorite steelhead trait/buzz—enjoying the hidden intensity and unexpected while carving and dissecting a “ new run” in search of the “sweet spot”—its all about the GRAB!!! Been fortunate to have fished forty-five (45) Pacific Northwest steelhead rivers:

British Columbia – Dean, Stamp, Cowichan, English, Putlidge, Campbell, Gold

Washington – East Fork Lewis, North Fork Lewis, Kalama, Wind, Washougal, White Salmon, Coweeman, Grays, Toutle, Green, Klickitat, Elochoman.

Oregon – Rogue, Applegate, Wilson, Umpqua, Deschutes, Sandy, Trask, Clackamas.

California – Smith, Klamath, Trinity, South Fork Trinity, North Fork Trinity, Eel, South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mad, Redwood Creek, Russian, Gualala, Ten Mile,Sacramento, American. Mokelumne, Feather, Yuba.

What have I learned or gained fishing all of these rivers and all these years? Too simple— Steelheading is all about confidence/attitude and being at the right place at the right time… Be good to yourself. Never try too hard and always wade in with a smile.

While on the subject of steelhead, to date, fresh run lead fall fish are currently pushing through the Lower “K”… Small pods are all the way to Blue Creek. Spurts of chinook, half pounders and lead adults are also filtering through Weitchpec and staging in the gorge…Gear up and get ready—they’re coming!

Lower Dean River
Lower Dean River-Steelhead from Hell!!!